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General Instruction of the Roman Missal


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58. All in the assembly gathered for Mass have an individual right
and duty to contribute their participation in ways differing
according to the diversity of their order and liturgical
function.[45] Thus in carrying out this function, all, whether
ministers or laypersons, should do all and only those parts that
belong to them,[46] so that the very arrangement of the celebration
itself makes the Church stand out as being formed in a structure of
different orders and ministries.


59. Every authentic celebration of the eucharist is directed by the
bishop, either in person or through the presbyters, who are his

Whenever he is present at a Mass with a congregation, it is fitting
that the bishop himself preside over the assembly and associate the
presbyters with himself in the celebration, if possible by
concelebrating with them.

This is done not to add external solemnity, but to express in a
clearer light the mystery of the Church, which is the sacrament of

Even if the bishop is not the celebrant of the eucharist but assigns
someone else, he should preside over the liturgy of the word and give
the blessing at the end of Mass.

60. Within the community of believers, the presbyter is another who
possesses the power of orders to offer sacrifice in the person of
Christ.[49] He therefore presides over the assembly and leads its
prayer, proclaims the message of salvation, joins the people to
himself in offering the sacrifice to the Father through Christ in the
Spirit, gives them the bread of eternal life, and shares in it with
them. At the eucharist he should, then, serve God and the people with
dignity and humility; by his bearing and by the way he recites the
words of the liturgy he should communicate to the faithful a sense of
the living presence of Christ.

61. Among ministers, the deacon, whose order has been held in high
honor since the early Church, has first place. At Mass he has his own
functions: he proclaims the gospel, sometimes preaches God's word,
leads the general intercessions, assists the priest, gives communion
to the people (in particular, ministering the chalice), and sometimes
gives directions regarding the assembly's moving, standing, kneeling,
or sitting.


62. In the celebration of Mass the faithful are a holy people, a
people God has made his own, a royal priesthood: they give thanks to
the Father and offer the victim not only through the hands of the
priest but also together with him and learn to offer themselves.[50]
They should endeavor to make this clear by their deep sense of
reverence for God and their charity toward all who share with them in
the celebration.

They therefore are to shun any appearance of individualism or
division, keeping before their mind that they have the one Father in
heaven and therefore are all brothers and sisters to each other.

They should become one body, whether by hearing the word of God, or
joining in prayers and song, or above all by offering the sacrifice
together and sharing together in the Lord's table. There is a
beautiful expression of this unity when the faithful maintain
uniformity in their actions and in standing, sitting, or kneeling.

The faithful should serve the people of God willingly when asked to
perform some particular ministry in the celebration.

63. The <schola cantorum> or choir exercises its own liturgical
function within the assembly. Its task is to ensure that the parts
proper to it, in keeping with the different types of chants, are
carried out becomingly and to encourage active participation of the
people in the singing.[51] What is said about the choir applies in a
similar way to other musicians, especially the organist.

64. There should be a cantor or a choir director to lead and sustain
the people in the singing. When in fact there is no choir, it is up
to the cantor to lead the various songs, and the people take part in
the way proper to them.[52]


65. The acolyte is instituted to serve at the altar and to assist the
priest and deacon. In particular it is for him to prepare the altar
and the vessels and, as a special minister of the eucharist, to give
communion to the faithful.

66. The reader is instituted to proclaim the readings from Scripture,
with the exception of the gospel. He may also announce the intentions
for the general intercessions and, in the absence of the psalmist,
sing or read the psalm between the readings.

The reader has his own proper function in the eucharistic celebration
and should exercise this even though ministers of a higher rank may
be present.

Those who exercise the ministry of reader, even if they have not
received institution, must be truly qualified and carefully prepared
in order that the faithful will develop a warm and lively love for
Scripture[53] from listening to the reading of the sacred texts.

67. The cantor of the psalm is to sing the psalm or other biblical
song that comes between the readings. To fulfill their function
correctly, these cantors should possess singing talent and an
aptitude for correct pronunciation and diction.

68. As for other ministers, some perform different functions inside
the sanctuary, others outside.

The first kind include those deputed as special ministers to
administer communion[54] and those who carry the missal, the cross,
candles, the bread, wine, water, and the thurible.

The second kind include:

a. The commentator. This minister provides explanations and
commentaries with the purpose of introducing the faithful to the
celebration and preparing them to understand it better. The
commentator's remarks must be meticulously prepared and marked by a
simple brevity.

In performing this function the commentator stands in a convenient
place visible to the faithful, but it is preferable that this not be
at the lectern where the Scriptures are read.

b. Those who, in some places, meet the people at the church entrance,
seat them, and direct processions.

c. Those who take up the collection.

69. Especially in larger churches and communities, a person should be
assigned responsibility for planning the services properly and for
their being carried out by the ministers with decorum, order, and

70. Laymen, even if they have not received institution as ministers,
may perform all the functions below those reserved to deacons. At the
discretion of the rector of the church, women may be appointed to
ministries that are performed outside the sanctuary.

The conference of bishops may permit qualified women to proclaim the
readings before the gospel and to announce the intentions of the
general intercessions. The conference may also more precisely
designate a suitable place for a woman to proclaim the word of God in
the liturgical assembly.[55]

71. If there are several persons present who are empowered to
exercise the same ministry, there is no objection to their being
assigned different parts to perform. For example, one deacon may take
the sung parts, another assist at the altar; if there are several
readings, it is better to distribute them among a number of readers.
The same applies for the other ministries.

72. If only one minister is present at a Mass with a congregation, he
may carry out several different functions.

73. All concerned should work together in the effective preparation
of each liturgical celebration as to its rites, pastoral aspects, and
music. They should work under the direction of the rector of the
church and should consult the faithful.


Courtesy of Meeting Christ in the Liturgy E-zine: Weekly reflections on the Scriptures of the sared Liturgy and the Catechism of the Catholic Church